Call to increase take-up of Meningitis B injections

October 27 2017

Recent cases of Meningitis B among young people in Bristol, highlighted by the death of 18- year-old St Brendan’s student George Zographou, has prompted fresh calls to look again at offering the Meningitis B vaccine to all teenagers.

Recent cases of Meningitis B among young people in Bristol, highlighted by the death of 18- year-old St Brendan’s student George Zographou, has prompted fresh calls to look again at offering the Meningitis B vaccine to all teenagers.

The bacteria that cause meningitis can spread to people through prolonged close contact. Meningitis can affect all ages, but it’s more common in babies and young children. A vaccine for Meningitis B has been available since May 2015, and has been given to all babies routinely since then.

The next most vulnerable group is teenagers and young adults because of increased social mixing at these ages as they begin sixth form and university studies, leading to increased spreading of the bacteria. All teenagers are now vaccinated against the Meningitis ACWY strain at secondary school but not Meningitis B.

Michelle Bresnahan set up ‘A life for a Cure’ in 2010 after her 16 year old son Ryan died suddenly after contracting Meningitis. Michelle said: 

“Ryan was a sports scholar at Clifton College, and we lost him very suddenly, within a few hours. We couldn’t understand how that could happen in this modern day, and weren’t aware that meningitis affected teenagers either. 

“We’ve been campaigning with the charity Meningitis Now to raise funds and awareness about meningitis vaccines because the symptoms are so hard to detect that prevention has to be the best way. 

“The problem that we experience is that people are under the misconception that if they’ve had one vaccine it’s covering them against all strains. Teenagers will have their Men ACWY at school but that does not protect them against Men B."

Despite a petition and campaign to inoculate all teenagers against Meningitis B, so far the injections are only available privately at a total cost of between £200-£300.

“We would encourage anyone who can afford it, to have it done privately. Ryan’s next chapter is all about trying to stop other amazing lives being lost to Meningitis,” added Michelle.

Meningitis Now have funded a student awareness campaign to increase the take-up of the ACWY vaccination as it is now free for them. 

The Meningitis B injection is available at Cotham Pharmacy, Boots, Superdrug, and at Kellaway Pharmacy from November.